Payback: Portrait of a wacko 🤪

This is where you can read these manhwas. Payback: But be aware that this manhwas is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more analyses about Payback or other manhwas, here is the link to the table of contents: I am also using doctor Frost as reference again. 

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Reminder: This analysis is based only on the manhwa.

Anyone reading Payback is aware that „wacko“ is the nickname given to Yoon Jay by Lee Yoohan. The latter started calling him that way, when he met him on the rooftop of the building owned by Dream Ent “for the first time”. (chapter 4) As you can imagine, in this essay, my main focus will be on executive director Yoon Jae, because he is surrounded by mystery and secrets. However, this perception is not entirely correct, because they exist other wackos in this story which I will present at the end. 😲

1. Introduction of Yoon Jae

What caught my attention is the way the protagonist was introduced in the prologue. The manhwalovers could never see his face and as such his gaze. . This means that Fujoking and Samk were hiding his real character on purpose, though the readers already knew his job and name: executive director Yoon. As you can see, the mystery concerning Yoon Jay is not about his name, but about his personality. He is indeed very difficult to understand contrary to Lee Yoohan who can be read like an open book.

But why? First, it is because we don’t have much information about him and his past. (chapter 1) He lived for a long time in the US, and he hasn’t been working at Dream Ent for a long time. He is portrayed as a ruthless man, for he doesn’t mind firing people. However, I believe that his bad notoriety is linked to his smile as well. How so? It is because when he rejects or fires people, he has a huge smile on his face. It was, as if he was feeling Schadenfreude. We have the perfect example, when he rejects Song Myungshin’s advances. (chapter 9) Though the image seems to ooze warmth due to the flowers and bright colors, we should perceive it as the opposite due to the huge contrast between the background and the immense NO. He is here acting, mirroring the actor’s hypocrisy. Besides, note that the main lead has closed eyes, an indication that he is hiding his true thoughts and emotions to the antagonist. Because the main lead combines a smirk with cold words, he appears heartless… almost like a psychopath! Hence he is also called psychopath. (chapter 35) That’s the reason why Yoon Jae is not surprised or upset hearing it from his protégé. His negative reputation incites fear and intimidation, like the spy admits it. Even the manager Choi gets frightened, when he hears his name. (chapter 6) However, the readers should question if Yoon Jae’s dangerousness is not exaggerated. Why? First of all, despite his claims, the worker was actually revealing secrets about the executive director to the actor Song Myungshin. If he truly feared him, then he shouldn’t have exposed the director’s research for the rabbit. (chapter 1) This was absolutely private. But who is Yoon Jae in reality?

2. The prologue: first clues about the “wacko”

Yes, even in the prologue, the authors let us see a glimpse of Yoon Jae’s personality. If you read other analyses from me, you are well aware that the decoration of a room mirrors the mental and emotional disposition of people. (Doctor Frost, chapter 8) Striking is the preference for dark colors, essentially brown and black.

“In color psychology, black means power and control, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others. Black is intimidating, unfriendly and unapproachable because of the power it exudes. […] Negative keywords include aloof, depressing and pessimistic, secretive and withholding, conservative and serious, power & control, sadness and negativity.” Quoted from

As you can see, the color reflects his mind-set. He is quite a controlling person, thus he made sure to be updated on Lee Yoohan’s moves. (chapter 9) He investigated about his past immediately. And what is the signification of brown then?

Brown suppresses the emotions, creating a safe haven from the stresses of the outside world within which problems can be contemplated and solved. Brown is a color of structure, although by no means does it encourage perfectionism – rather it encourages orderliness and organization. Brown is solid with strength and maturity. It prefers to function in its own safe little world – it is not carefree and spontaneous and doesn’t like surprises. It can be considered dull, boring and unexciting by many.” Quoted from

This exposes that Yoon Jae is not an emotional person, quite the opposite. He is very serious, rational and even calculative, as he has to anticipate people’s actions (combined with black). (prologue) Furthermore, since the brown shade is associated to structure and organization, this shows that his whole life is revolving around work. Besides, the manhwaworms can perceive his workaholism thanks to the scripts placed on his desk and cupboards. He is so dedicated to his job that he even brings work home. (chapter 35). One might object to this interpretation, for contrary to the office in Dream’s building and Alice’s labyrinth (chapter 13), the floor and walls of his home are white. Why is there this difference? The color exposes the emptiness and loneliness of his life. This explains why the main lead barely goes home. I am even assuming that he is avoiding the place. He prefers sleeping on the bank (chapter 34) from the rooftop of the building than going home. And now, you comprehend why the director’s relative and friend sent Lee Yoohan there. He desired to ensure that his acquaintance would get enough sleep. Yoon Jae realized that if he desired to keep the main lead by his side, he needed to go back home so that they could share a bed together. (chapter 35) As you can see, I was able to create connections between the main lead’s office and other scenes indicating the importance of the design of a room.

(Prologue) His office seems to have no window, though I have my doubts about it. From my point of view, the windows are covered, or since this office has two rooms, it is possible that the windows are in the other study. Let’s not forget that when Lee Yoohan delivered the letter to his assistant Park Sung-Ki, it was still daylight. Anyway, since there’s no sunlight, the director has to turn on the light. This indicates that he doesn’t pay attention to time at all. I would even say that he has somehow lost the notion of „time“. Thus I conclude that he has no regular life. This is not surprising when Yoon Jae explains to Lee Yoohan later that he worked for three days without sleeping. (chapter 35) Since he switched from the office in the Dream’s building to the one at Alice labyrinth’s, he can barely notice sun light. And now, you have the explanation why the main lead is so feared by the workers from Dream Ent. He forces them to work non-stop, even to sacrifice their night (see chapter 38)! That’s the reason why he is called a psychopath. He doesn’t know the true meaning of life. For him, there only exists work, work, work. Under this new light, the readers can perceive the similarities between the two protagonists. Both were leading a similar way of life, but definitely for different reasons.

(Prologue) Finally, behind his desk there is this huge picture of a conifers’ forest covered with clouds and fog. (chapter 10) The topic exposes the main lead’s loneliness and dull life. There is no real fresh air in his office, as it is just a picture. This room feels suffocating. It was, as if Yoon Jae was buried under work. Finally, the manhwaphiles can notice the absence of family pictures. And this is the same in the second office at Alice labyrinth’s and his real home. He is truly alone. The darkness of the room and the absence of a family display that Yoon Jae is not truly living. He is just working. There’s no joy or happiness in his life. That’s the reason why he appears so ruthless to others, because he doesn’t take into consideration his workers’ love life and family. This is the second common denominator with Lee Yoohan. And now, it is time to focus why the main lead called Yoon Jae a wacko.

3. Their first meeting on the rooftop

When Lee Yoohan asked him for a cigarette, (chapter 3), Yoon Jae showed his hostility immediately. First, he remained silent, then he insulted him by throwing the butt to his feet. (chapter 3) Such a reaction could only shock Lee Yoohan, as the latter had showed no sign of aggressiveness before. But why did the mysterious man react so negatively then? It is because for Yoon Jae, the rooftop had become his true home, the place where he could breathe. That’s the reason why he didn’t want anyone there, until he met the other main lead! And it is the same at Alice‘s labyrinth either. The rooftop is the main lead’s refuge where he can connect to “nature”. He can watch the city, but also the stars in the night sky or find some sleep.

In his eyes, Lee Yoohan was just an intruder who was trying to approach him in order to obtain some benefit. This shows that kindness and generosity were unknown in his world. It is only about value, give and take. Striking is that during this scene, the authors let the readers see the devil’s smile which was actually a sign of his coldness. (chapter 3) This perception got even reinforced, when Fujoking chose black to show Yoon Jae’s words. (chapter 3) Unlike with Song Myungshin, the main lead decided to expose his true thoughts and emotions, therefore Lee Yoohan could see his gaze. In other words, the scene 9 stands in opposition to chapter 3 and 4. This is important, because this explains why Yoon Jae came to “show an interest in Lee Yoohan” righ away. While in chapter 9, the executive director sent away the evil and fake actor (chapter 9), he proposed a deal to “Lee Baekwon”. (chapter 4) The reason for this change of attitude is that Lee Yoohan showed no fear in front of him. He didn’t feel humiliated to take the butt and he even retaliated. (chapter 3) This means that he had no problem to defy Yoon Jae, while the latter knows about his terrible reputation. The protagonist would even glare at him after the punch. (chapter 4)

The other reason why the executive director got intrigued is the young man’s innocence and honesty. He had not only no idea about his true identity (chapter 4), but also he rejected his assistance. (chapter 5) This shows that Lee Yoohan was no real leech. In other words, the young man was acting the opposite to the people Yoon Jae had ever met so far: hypocrites and greedy leech. That’s the reason why Yoon Jae found him so intriguing.

What caught my attention is the vocabulary he was employing in connection with the young actor: joke (chapter 4), amusing (chapter 11), impressive (chapter 13), boring (chapter 23) and “amused” . (chapter 23) These idioms belong to the semantic field “entertainment”, which stands in opposition to work! To conclude, Lee Yoohan brought joy and light into his dull life, this is not surprising that at the end of season 1, Yoon Jae is now investing in an independent movie.

Due to his unusual reactions, the main lead felt more and more attracted to the young man. Thanks to him, he felt his heart racing for the second time! (chapter 35) But why did he react to “revenge” then? He had never done something like that before, for he had always been on his own. He had always been indifferent towards people. But the more he saw the young actor, the more he got aroused sexually, the consequence of his racing heart. (chapter 13) This indicates that he was slowly brought back to life.

4. The origins of Yoon Jae’s weirdness

What he only knew so far was to make deals (value, give and take), because that’s the way he had been raised: t (chapter 30) He was not allowed to voice his emotions and thoughts to his “mother”. That’s the reason why Fujoking portrayed him as emotionless. (chapter 30) He had no smile on his face as a child, because he had been forced to lose it. There is no ambiguity that he was not allowed to cry either. The reason seems to be related to the mother’s high expectations for her son. (chapter 30). She made plans that Yoon Jae had to make come true. That’s how he internalized that life consists of only work and expectations. Everything else is pointless. It doesn’t matter, if this woman is his biological mother or his “adoptive mother”. Let’s not forget that the executive director has two names, Han and Yoon. Yoon comes from his mother. He is using “Yoon”, which could be seen as a sign of pride, while he resents “Han”.

This woman raised him with the following principles: deals and plans. There was no hug and warmth between them, hence there is this huge distance between them. (chapter 30) And she only touched him with her finger on his forehead. (chapter 30) He only had to use his intelligence and deny the existence of his heart. That’s the reason why he became a lonely and detached person. The lack of intimacy explains why Yoon Jae discovered sexuality very late. He only had sex with Lee Yoohan so far. (chapter 30) He had not the time and the opportunity to question his sexual orientation. His whole life revolved around work since his childhood.

Striking is that on the day, he met the protagonist for the first time, he looked quite suicidal and depressed. He was definitely provoking the men, thus he reproached the main lead his intervention. (chapter 14) He had a wounded arm, he was hiding his gaze behind his hair… a sign that he was having a hard time. He could only voice his emotions through aggression in the end. Striking is that in this situation, he utilized the idiom “play” contrasting to his philosophy of life: work: (chapter 14) In his mind, play was a synonym for fighting, but Lee Yoohan changed the meaning: sex. Thus when he had sex with the young man, he made two discoveries: tears which could only move his heart (chapter 14), for they represented what Yoon Jae had always been repressing so far, his broken heart and sadness. (chapter 35) This means that the young actor serves as a role model for the executive director. At the same time, he felt sexual pleasure for the first time (chapter 14), and he could give warmth to someone. (chapter 15) He was no longer evaluated based on his work performance, but on his kindness. I am quite certain that during this encounter Yoon Jae must have felt time differently too.

Therefore it is no coincidence that after this love session, the executive director wished to keep in touch with the mysterious rabbit. He was willing to open up his heart for him. (chapter 15) I would even add that he was totally sincere, when he gave him the following advice: (chapter 15) But what the executive director had in mind back then was totally different from Lee Yoohan. Thanks the pink rabbit, he had discovered that he was not truly alone, there existed warmth and emotions besides work. This meeting had definitely affected the main lead’s perception, hence he added this: (chapter 15) He was smiling again, because he felt that a new chapter in his life was about to begin. However, the problem is that his words resonated for the former thug differently. He had deserved to lose his mother and his brother, as he had neglected them before. He was responsible for their death. He reinforced the main lead’s guilt and shame. Thus the latter got angry and punched Yoon Jae’s wounded arm before giving him money. (chapter 15) He was not allowed to receive affection, though his future lover meant the exact opposite. From my point of view, this was the moment Yoon Jae learned the following lesson: smile is associated to rejection and coldness. This explicates why his facial expression in the motel room (chapter 15) resembles to the one on the rooftop. (chapter 9) Thus the manhwalovers can comprehend why the stockholder Jae was angry at the Jihwaja rabbit (chapter 17), but still was longing for him and his embrace. (chapter 37) One thing is sure. Because of this incident, the executive director learned not to show his affection immediately. So when Lee Yoohan got into trouble at Alice Labyrinth’s, the executive director denied that he had sent the waiter in order to assist him. (chapter 23) However, the readers can grasp that this is not true, for he got annoyed that Lee Yoohan said that he was not expecting any help from him.

5. The true nature of Yoon Jae’s relationship with Yoohan

Because for the executive director, work means everything, he can only reject sponsoring! Why? It is because the latter uses connections and pleasure as basis. This has nothing to do with talent or hard work. The “protégé” just needs to assist his “sponsor” elsewhere. Sponsoring contradicts the values the protagonist is advocating: honest hard work, no reliance on others. And now, if you observe the evolution of the couple, you will realize that the executive director never gave his support for free. There was always a deal between them. Even when he offered the interview, it contained a trap: (chapter 7) Lee Taemin was here cornered. If he had mentioned the incident on the rooftop, the protagonist would have lost his interest in him. However, this pushed the main lead to become proactive and even creative. Then later, it was the same. His help was never for free. (chapter 10) The irony is that here, the debutant didn’t grasp the ambiguity of his words. He could mean that he was selling his body, while in reality he had in his mind to work for the mysterious “helper”. The executive director had already perceived his innocence, hence he indeed offered him a job. (chapter 13) Secondly, Lee Tamin never truly employed his assistance directly. When he made the first phone call to wacko, he asked him to have his manager punished. Why? That way, Song Myungshin’s intervention would be mentioned. This means that Lee Yoohan used more or less the normal way to achieve his goal. That’s the reason why no one has ever made a connection between the executive director and Lee Taemin. The latter always tried to resolve the problems on his own. This could only impress the executive director. He could see that the young man was hard working. Striking is that Jay revealed his attachment and admiration towards Lee Yoohan very early on, because he introduced himself as Jay! (chapter 13) This is quite unusual for Koreans. Moreover, observe that he allowed him to enter his office at Alice Labyrinth’s. This is definitely his hiding place, hence I doubt that he allows strangers to visit him there. Slowly, the executive director Jay allowed Lee Yoohan to visit his private places: first the roof, then his office at Alice’s Labyrinth, the rooftop there too and finally his home.

But why didn’t Lee Yoohan notice his affection for him in the end? First, their mind-sets were different. Lee Yoohan grew up in a family, so he still cared for his mother and brother. He definitely had a big heart, but the problem was his mother was overwhelmed by her situation, raising two children as a single mother. He has always helped others, the perfect example is his relationship with the actor Song Myungshin. He consoled him and helped him to read his lines, he would share his flat with him. As you can see, Lee Yoohan might have been a thug, but he was still a generous man. Therefore it is no wonder that he felt terribly guilty after the loss of his family. And observe how Lee Yoohan reacted, when the director asked him to sleep with him. He let his future lover embrace him while asleep. (chapter 35)

Yoon Jae has never learned to share, as it was about a deal. So far, he never had to take care of a partner. This explicates why his friend gave a suit to the protagonist. (chapter 29) He knew that he had to play cupide.

Another reason for being called a wacko is that Lee Yoohan always had a regular life despite his terrible situation. He didn’t rest much, but his whole week was carefully planned. The time he didn’t spend at work was left to sleep. As you can see, he never neglected his body, thus he has a real home contrary to the main lead. Observe that the main lead noticed the chaos Yoon Jae’s office and home, yet this is not how the actor lives. This means that thanks to the main lead, the weirdo will learn to distance himself from work, and enjoy life. To conclude, though the main leads shared some similarities, they still came from two different worlds: education, life style and family situation. This is no coincidence that “Lee Baekwon” is connected to the pink rabbit. The latter symbolizes innocence, but also love and sexuality. He brought exactly what Yoon Jae had been missing in his childhood. Therefore, the main lead finds life more funny and interesting now.

Another reason is that Lee Yoohan has been betrayed by his ex-lover. So from my point of view, he became disillusioned about love. In the past, he had been fooled by Song Myungshin’s fake tears and affection. Hence I am suspecting that he chose sex with Yoon Jay for that reason. He had realized that sex could be quite superficial. This explicates why he didn’t mind switching position. However, since the stockholder had never fallen in love with someone before, he made the exact opposite experience. He came to see the connection between sex and love. Hence he has this romantic perception of love,. . (chapter 15) This shows that Yoon Jae associates love to faithfulness and strong emotions, but the innocent rookie has long disconnected sex with affection. That’s the reason why he couldn’t see his jealousy (chapter 16) and as such his growing affection towards him.

Striking is that the moment he realizes Lee Taemin’s true identity, he is so happy that he not only smiles, but also blushes. (chapter 37) This picture announces the final transformation of the “wacko”. He is so overjoyed, that he wished to give his lover everything. , (chapter 38): fame, revenge… but also his heart! Thus he added this (chapter 38) He will give him affection and warmth so that he can overcome his loss.

6. The other weirdos

Like mentioned above, the executive director dislikes sponsoring very much, as he is a purist. He only judges people based on their performance and value. He treasures integrity and honesty. This explains why he cleaned the company by firing so many people in the end. (chapter 07) Thus he embodies the opposite values of chairman Kim, who doesn’t care about great movies and realism. Thus he changes scripts or actors. (chapter 23) For him, only his pleasures matter. He uses his money and connections to obtain his goal. He is actually the real monster who will abuse and rape men. (chapter 40) And the actor Song Myungshin is his helping hand who selects the man’s future preys (chapter 40) with fake promises, while he benefits the most by receiving money and support for his career. The manager Choi described them as parasites who take pleasure at the suffering of others: (chapter 40) The actor is not different from chairman Kim, because as long as the others are sacrificed and as such suffering, he will never envy them. Song Myungshin is full of jealousy, and can not bear that someone else can be successful, thus he is determined to ruin the life of others: manager Choi, the talented Lee Hansoo and the rookie Lee Taemin. He perceives everyone as a source of threat due to his insecurities and greed. Since Chairman Kim and Song Myungshin embody rape and prostitution, it is normal that Yoon Jae never forced Lee Yoohan to have sex with him. He is the romantic one through and through, thus he is waiting for a real sign from his lover. Therefore it is no coincidence that he said this to the main lead: (chapter 28) He was signalizing that he wished to have sex with him, he had trouble to wait. (chapter 28) These words expose that for Yoon Jae sex and love were the same thing for him. He couldn’t differentiate them. Hence he can only appear as a wacko to the fake actor and chairman Kim. Therefore Song Myungshin is doomed to failure, he will never be able to seduce the powerful and attractive executive director Yoon Jae.

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Painter Of The Night / Payback: “Innocent or not guilty?“⚖️

This is where you can read these manhwas. Payback: Painter Of The Night: But be aware that these manhwas are mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents concerning Painter Of The Night: Here, you can find more analyses about other manhwas:

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In daily life, people view the idioms “innocent” and “not guilty” as synonyms. However, from a legal standpoint, there exists a difference. Innocent signifies that a person did not commit the crime, whereas not guilty means that the prosecution could not prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a person committed the crime. Therefore, the court does not pronounce a defendant as “innocent” but rather “not guilty”. Thus the prosecution’s task is to bring up as many evidences as possible to prove the guilt of the accused. At the same time, I would like the manhwalovers to keep in their mind that that innocence stands in opposition to sin and not just to crime! So technically, someone might have not committed a wrongdoing, but he can have acted reprehensively. This signifies that we are dealing here with moral and social norms. Thus a sin is not judged by the court, but by gods and people. This explicates why the legal system never says “innocent”, but “not guilty”. This nuance could be perceived in two different manhwas, Payback and Painter Of The Night. Some readers might question the purpose for such a study. In my eyes, it helps us to perceive the characters under a different light.

1. Lee Yoohan, innocent or not guilty?

In the story Payback, the main lead Lee Yoohan had a dark past. He had dropped out of school (chapter 1), and he was no longer living with his single mother and brother Lee Hansoo. He described himself as a small but confident delinquent, as he used to work for a loan shark in order to earn money very easily. (chapter 1) And one day, his brother Lee Hansoo met him in order to ask him for money. Their mother was sick and they needed to pay the hospital bills. Lee Yohan agreed to help, thus under pressure, he chose to threaten a debtor’s son. Observe that the main lead chose to use a knife and take the child as hostage. He was walking on a thin line between legality and crime. As you can see, Lee Yohan was no saint. But it didn’t matter to him so far, for he had no faith at all. He refused to believe in karma. (chapter 1) He was definitely a disillusioned teenager, therefore he was not thinking about the future. However, the fact that he became totally reckless during that day indicates that he still valued his family. He might not have been close to them, but he still cared for them. That’s the reason why he agreed to accept the brother’s request. We can sense his worry here. (chapter 1) When the borrower was confronted with such a ruthless behavior, he warned the main lead: (chapter 1) However, since he had given up on his dreams and had no hope, Yohan didn’t take the threat seriously, until he was confronted with reality. (chapter 1) The same man killed his brother Lee Hansoo in front of the main character. The man had acted like that, for he had lost everything: his home and as such his family. I would add that he had failed to protect his son. Out of despair and anger, he decided to retaliate, to make the young man suffer, like he had been hurt before. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The assassination was like a wake-up call for Lee Yohan. From that moment on, he turned a new leaf. (chapter 1)Why? He considered himself as the murderer of his own brother. (chapter 2) In his eyes, it was, as if he had killed himself the brother and his own mother! (chapter 27) He recognized that his actions had been the trigger for the debtor’s crime! At no moment in the manhwa, the main lead blamed the real culprit, not even his own mother who had given up on him. He admitted that in the end, it had always been his own choice to live like a thug! Striking is that he considers himself as responsible for his mother’s death, as because of his terrible way of life, he had caused her worries. As you can see, Lee Yoohan could not be considered as guilty for his relatives’ death, but he had definitely his share of responsibility in his family’s suffering.

Striking is that the young man paid off all his debts, as he saw them as his way to atone for his sins. Thus he never allowed himself to rest. How could he enjoy life, when he was a sinner? In his mind, he needed to suffer, but at the same time, he could never grief for the loss of his mother and brother. He had not the time for that. That’ the reason why Yoon Jae’s best friend asked him this: (chapter 27) No, he didn’t cry, hence the owner of the club wept for him. (chapter 27) He could sense Lee Yohan’s agony. He had lost his family at such a young age, he might have been a sinner, but anyone could sense his affection and conscience! He might have lived like a thug, but he was not a bad person per se. It is just that he had made wrong choices, just like the man who had stabbed his brother. In the main lead’s eyes, it was not karma, like the culprit said: (chapter 1) This means that Lee Yohan still refused to believe in divine punishment. Therefore it is not surprising that the protagonist punished himself so hard, and accepted his suffering without objection. He was not allowed to feel warmth and affection. (chapter 15) Thus he rejected the advances from Yoon Jae. In chapter 15, we could sense that the main character was preoccupied about the existence of god. Was there a divine punishment or not? (chapter 15) And Yoon Jae denied such a thing, but added then: (chapter 15) But is it not the same? Yes and no… For Yoon Jay, if someone acts badly towards another person, the former will be treated the same way. On the other hand, each kindness will be returned. But one might argue that the gods can interact through humans and use them as pawns to give people their karma. And this is what we are discovering in Payback. Lee Yohan helped Yoon Jae and even showed him a crying man. The famous director Yoon got moved by the main lead’s tears (chapter 15) proving that not all humans were cold and distant. They could express regret and admit their mistake. For the first time, Yoon Jae discovered warmth and sensitivity.

Lee Yohan would have kept punishing himself and putting a distance between himself and others, if his path had not crossed the famous actor Song Myungshin again! One day, he overheard a conversation between the artist Song Myungshin and his manager, and discovered the truth about the whole incident. The actor had been himself threatened by the debtor, so in order to save his own skin, he designated the younger brother to the future murderer. (chapter 1) The most terrible thing is that the actor had been helped constantly by the protagonist. Since the former had a dream of becoming an actor, the “thug” was generous to help him financially and emotionally. The assassination worked for Song Myungshin, for he had planned to steal the money from Lee Yohan. (chapter 1) That’s the reason why he didn’t even call the police. The murder would divert the main lead’s attention from the theft. When Lee Yohan heard this confession, he got upset for two reasons. Song Myungshin showed no remorse and a total indifference towards Lee Hansoo and the main lead. (chapter 1) But most importantly, he never suffered any karma. In fact, he could benefit from his sins and crimes. This could only reinforce his impression that there was no god out there giving punishment to the sinners. The actor took pride of his bad action, as he decided to take Song Yohan as his stage name! Yohan was a reminder that thanks to him, he could enter the entertainment scene. As a conclusion, karma hasn’t punished the actor Song Myungshin yet. Therefore Lee Yohan was determined to take his revenge. What he didn’t realize is that his first encounter with the other main lead would help him to achieve his goal: to give “punishment” to Song Myunshin. So he didn’t know yet that the gods were aware of this injustice, thus they let him meet the famous director Yoon Jay. (chapter 15) On the other hand, the existence of Lee Yohan gave the director hope, he could smile again and as such find happiness. The rabbit announced the return of innocence in Yoon Jae’s life. In other words, the two main leads were quite similar in their disposition: both had been wounded by their past, and had no hope. And thanks to the famous and powerful director Yoon Jay, the main lead is slowly starting living again. Little by little, he is interacting with people again, helping others, though he never does it openly. The best example is the actor Lee Hansoo who has the same name than his own brother. (chapter 6) In this scene, he refused to be addressed as hyung, as in his eyes, he didn’t deserve such a title. He had not acted like a hyung to his true little brother.

To sum up, Lee Yohan is a sinner, and he is not denying his responsibility for the loss of his family. For me, he punished himself too harshly. He never believed in karma, he saw that everything was related to his own choices. He had trusted the wrong persons in the end. And now, the gods are rewarding Lee Yohan’ for his remorse and new leaf. What made me smile while reading this manhwa is that when the former thug met Yoon Jay, he was wearing a rabbit costume with Jihwaha! (chapter 14) I couldn’t myself thinking of the antagonist Lee Jihwa, for he was put in a similar situation.

2. Lee Jihwa, a criminal or a sinner?

When in chapter 101 Lee Jihwa heard the report from Seokdae, he said that he had done nothing wrong, as he had never committed such crimes: (chapter 101) Indirectly, he was claiming his innocence. Thus the servant suggested to the young master to go to the police bureau in order to clear his name, but the young master refused to do so. Why? The problem is that Lee Jihwa couldn’t prove his innocence. And deep down, the childhood friend knew this. How could he prove that he was not involved in the scheme, when Min visited him (chapter 100) on different occasions, and both went to the scholar’s home together? Yes, this time Min’s threat had become a reality. (chapter 76) He could no longer back out. He couldn’t put the whole blame on the Joker, because this means that he would have to admit his own complicity. Yes, Lee Jihwa was trapped. He could sense that he had been framed by Black Heart, but the former couldn’t claim his innocence because of his knowledge! That’s how I realize why the young man was punished this way. Remember how he had blamed his childhood friend for his misery, and had used his knowledge as a proof for his reproach! (chapter 57) (chapter 57) Thanks to his knowledge, he was above any reproach, while it was not the same for Yoon Seungho. The latter was indeed ignorant, for he had forgotten many things. Consequently, the gods chose to punish Lee Jihwa for his arrogance and passivity. Now, he knows, but this doesn’t help him at all. Hence he decided to forget! This means that he behaved like Yoon Seungho, who repressed everything. The only difference is that contrary to the childhood friend, the main lead had been a real victim the entire time. Thus the second lead imagines that once he forgets and runs away, he will be able to escape punishment. However, he is wrong, for by choosing oblivion and desertion, he has to give up on his name Lee and identity. He can still be addressed as Jihwa, like you could see above. Yet, we have to question this. Is Lee Jihwa truly innocent like he claims it?

According to our modern legal system, he would be accused of complicity and of non-assistance to a person in danger, and this in four cases! First, when he arrived in front of Jung In-Hun’s house, he saw the painter wounded. (chapter 99) But what did he do? Nothing. Secondly, he witnessed how the kisaeng was dragged away to get killed, though it was staged. Here again, he did nothing. (chapter 99) I would even say that he even faked ignorance, because he was lying. The drop of sweat is the clue for this interpretation, besides Min contradicted his testimony in the shaman’s house later. (chapter 100) He had contacted the antagonist on many occasions, so he had heard from Black Heart before. It was never out of the blue. He knew about the existence of the plot and its goal: Taste the painter and kill him. He had been informed a long time ago. Then in the shaman’s house, he saw the painter dead in his vision, hence he pushed The Joker away and fled. (chapter 100) He turned his back on Baek Na-Kyum. But that means that he abandoned the artist once more time. In three occasions, he was well aware what was happening and he could have intervened. Yet, he let it happen. Besides, he handed over the drugs and dildo to Min. As you can see, he was never an innocent person, but not just a sinner. He was an accomplice. And he knew this, thus he couldn’t go to the bureau of investigation. Min was well aware of this. (chapter 101) Naturally, his crime was nothing compared to Min’s.

On the other hand, since he didn’t participate actively in the plot, he never hurt the painter or Heena himself, Lee Jihwa views himself as innocent. But inaction is still action. Thus I still don’t think that the antagonist recognized his own sins. Why? It’s because he called himself a victim later. (chapter 101) He didn’t see why he should die, when in his eyes, he had done nothing! And the antagonist’s prophecy became a reality. (chapter 50) By fleeing, he didn’t stop his friend from committing a murder. Thus he is responsible for their deaths. And he knew that Min and the other nobles would die. (chapter 101) He chose to save his own skin instead of saving their life, though here he was more fearing the king‘s reaction. During the same night, Lee Jihwa got tested 4 times, and each time, he refused to help. That’s the reason why the gods chose to punish him by making lose his title and name. He will become the culprit of a mass murder, he killed Black Heart and the other two nobles. And this would reflect the truth, for the red-haired master didn’t intervene. He could have acted like Baek Na-Kyum (chapter 53) and even follow his friend. And this distinguishes him from Lee Yohan so much. The latter recognized that each decision he made had consequences. And note that the idiom “choice” was connected to silence and assistance. (chapter 76)

As you already know, for me, Lee Jihwa had already imagined that the artist was dead. Because Yoon Seungho trusted the childhood friend, he came to believe the same. The gods were showing the red-haired master the future: he would become a huge sinner, he would have blood on his own hands, though he never did the deed himself. (chapter 50) It was, as if he had murdered the nobles himself. The gods were teaching him a lesson: Knowledge and passivity are crimes. In other words, Lee Jihwa became a sinner and a criminal because of this night. And this because he refused to face reality.

One might refute this perception, for the young master had been left in the dark concerning Min’s plan. (chapter 83) But was he really ignorant here? I came to a different interpretation recently. How? First, why does the second lead have a drop of sweat in the last picture? This is an indication for a lie. But there exist stronger proofs. Don’t forget the following rules: there’s always a reflection within the same chapter, and each chapter is reflected in the next. In the antagonist’s memory, Lee Jihwa was portrayed as someone who would disobey his father! (chapter 83) He would trespass the house of the Yoons and enter the shed, even the lord’s bedchamber! (chapter 83) As you can see, Lee Jihwa was acting as a rebellious son in the past. He was not respecting social norms and the elders. This signifies that we have the exact opposite in the present. Observe the seasons: summer versus winter. Thus I come to the following deduction. He is following the order from his father, he is not dragged (chapter 83), but he brought Min there. Why would Min say this? (chapter 83) Why would he come to see the mess? His words are indicating that someone must have told him about the scholar’s death. Since we saw this, (chapter 83) we thought that when the plotters came, Min was leading the way. But if we take into consideration chapter 76, we realize that back then the childhood friend brought Min to Nameless’ barn. (chapter 76) Thus it could have been the same! Lee Jihwa had brought Min to the scholar’s house, then Min was the one giving the signal to leave the humble dwell, just like in chapter 76. The red-haired master let Min meet The Joker, before Min was the one asking Lee Jihwa to follow him, when he realized that Nameless refused to help him. (chapter 76) So when we view this, (chapter 83), we should envision that the roles were switched, when they went to Jung In-Hun’s house. Besides, keep in mind that in season 1, Black Heart had been the one giving the information to Lee Jihwa. (chapter 43), so from my point of view, we could have a similar situation, someone had asked him to bring lord Min to that mansion! It can not be Min… From my point of view, Lee Jihwa was acting on his father’s orders. That’s the reason why Lee Jihwa never entered the mansion, and he told Min the story about the incident in the bedchamber. Father Lee had been the one who brought it up first. (chapter 82) Why would Lee Jihwa suddenly mention this story to Black Heart, when he had remained silent the entire time? Even Min wondered about this! (chapter 83) Another clue for this signification is the vocabulary of Black Heart. The latter is speaking like father Lee: lunacy (chapter 82) (chapter 83), Baek Na-Kyum is called as a peasant (chapter 82) (chapter 92). Finally, don’t forget what Min said about Yoon Seungho. (chapter 83) This shows that Black Heart stands for social norms: respecting the elders. But he never realized that in verity he was getting fooled by the Lees. We saw where the main lead was living in the shed, but did Lee Jihwa say this to Min? No, I don’t think, he mentioned it… he was left in the dark about this, just like the readers were not informed, when lord Song was mentioned by Lee Jihwa. (chapter 83) But Min was not naive like Jihwa, he knew that once involved, someone had to pay for the subterfuge and crime.

As you can see, Lee Jihwa was repeating his wrongdoings from the past, he was betraying not only his childhood friend, but also Min and as such lord Song, for he revealed his identity. The only difference is that Min had indeed manipulated and betrayed first. But this doesn’t change the fact that Lee Jihwa stands fake loyalty. It is just the result of his education. He was influenced to follow his father’s instruction. Yes, the story is repeating itself, and father Lee was trying to use someone in order to cover up his son’s crime. One thing is sure: Min was well aware that Jung In-Hun had been killed, but he was informed that the crime scene in the scholar’s room had been staged. In my eyes, Black Heart never realized that he had become the pawn of Kim and the Lees. Father Lee’s goal was to turn Yoon Seungho into a murderer, but he had no idea that Kim had himself planned to have Lee Jihwa killed. Father Lee thought that he could recreate the situation from the past, when the Yoons were framed of treason. Back then, the main lead got blamed, but now everything is different. How so? The noble didn’t act like planned. He never used violence against the kisaengs (chapter 93) (chapter 99), the servant Seokdae or even his son Lee Jihwa. The loss of hair was the proof of his leniency. (chapter 101) Each time he spared them. How can father Lee claim that the main lead is behind the murder in the shaman’s house? Secondly, his own son vanished which will be considered as a sign of culpability. Finally, lord Shin is a survivor and his last image is that he got unconscious, when he spoke to Lee Jihwa. This means, Lee Jihwa will become a criminal! Because of this situation, I am hoping that the red-haired master will reflect on his own actions and decisions. He followed the elders’ advice blindly and paid a huge price for this. He would never get loved by the main lead. He came to lose everything: his home, family and title. He is now a commoner. From my point of view, father Lee will be forced to cut ties with his son in order to save his own skin, but it is also possible that he even loses the mansion. (chapter 82)

To conclude, Lee Yohan and Lee Jihwa are both sinners, yet the red-haired master is an accomplice of a murder, for he never intervened himself. While the thug still has a “clean record”, it is not the same for the second lead. Moreover, the main lead from Payback has a better understanding of sin and crime, but this is also normal, for he is growing up in a different environment. In Joseon, the sons had definitely less choices. Due to the big influence of Taoism and Confucianism, the juniors were asked to follow the orders from the elders blindly. Black Heart thought that he was really smart and cunning, while he was not. In truth, he was the perfect reflection of Joseon nobility and society: following social norms blindly and never questioning the elders. Thus he copied their behavior. He obviously listened too much to Kim and other adults, therefore it is not surprising that at the end, he paid for his wrongdoings with his life. All the schemers in this party were too arrogant and miscalculated.

As you can imagine, I prefer Lee Yohan known under the name of Lee Baekwon, for he never denied his responsibility. (chapter 27) On the other hand, contrary to Lee Jihwa, he grew up in a poor environment, thus he had to work in order to live. He could never live carefree like the spoiled only son of the Lees. Finally, I would like my readers to question themselves this: Will Lee Jihwa come to admit his responsibility in the death of the nobles and in Yoon Seungho’s suffering? I have to admit that I am hoping for his return, for the two friends need to have a proper talk, and according to me, Lee Jihwa apologized or at least expressed regret in front of his friend, thus he got spared. Yet, I would like very much to see such an apology to the main lead. But before his departure, he still viewed himself as a poor victim who had been wrongly framed exposing that he had not grasped the true nature of his wrongdoings. (chapter 101) So working for a living will teach him how to become responsible and strong!

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